Expert Analysis

What’s The Future Of Afghanistan After Trump?

What’s The Future Of Afghanistan After Trump?

13 JANUARY 2021


Russian Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov is fairly certain that President-Elect Biden won’t do much to turn the tide on outgoing President Trump’s drawdown from Afghanistan despite newly promulgated legislation hindering the prospect of further cuts, but he’s also concerned that US troops might be replaced by private military contractors in a scenario that he warned would be a mistake.

Russia’s Prediction For Afghanistan

Many questions are swirling about President-Elect Biden’s foreign policy upon his impending inauguration next week, but one of the most relevant for all of Eurasia is what his stance will be towards the US’ seemingly never-ending War on Afghanistan. Russian Special Presidential Representative for Russian Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov is fairly certain that President-Elect Biden won’t do much to turn the tide on outgoing President Trump’s drawdown from Afghanistan despite newly promulgated legislation hindering the prospect of further cuts, but he’s also concerned that US troops might be replaced by private military contractors in a scenario that he warned would be a mistake. This is a pretty sound prediction which deserves to be elaborated upon more at length in order to better understand the logic behind it.

The US’ New Central Asian Strategy

The author explained last year how “The US’ Central Asian Strategy Isn’t Sinister, But That Doesn’t Mean That It’ll Succeed”. It was pointed out that Trump’s official vision for the region as articulated by his administration’s “Strategy For Central Asia 2019-2025” sharply contrasts the unstated one pursued by his predecessors. Instead of focusing on terrorist-driven divide-and-rule Hybrid Warfare, it concentrates mostly on peaceful regional connectivity in order to calmly expand American influence into the geostrategic Eurasian Heartland. The non-violent means that are to be relied upon to this soft power end should be commended, though one shouldn’t also preclude the possibility of some elements of the former informal strategies remaining in place, especially following Biden’s inauguration.

The Argument Against Another “Surge”

The former Vice President is bringing a bunch of Obama-era and -influenced officials (back) to the White House, hence why many feared that he might even seriously countenance repeating that administration’s infamous but ultimately failed “surge”. The geopolitical times have greatly changed since then, however, and there doesn’t seem to be any real interest in doing so under the current conditions. Not only is the planet reeling from what the author described as World War C — which refers to the full-spectrum paradigm-changing processes unleashed by the international community’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19 — but America is on the brink of launching a domestic version of its “War on Terror” in response to Capitol Hill’s storming last week and the US must also adapt to China’s growing leadership role in the world. These take precedence over the Taliban.

Improved US-Pakistani Ties Augur Well For Afghanistan

The author touched upon those last developments as well as the Biden Administration’s lack of trust in the Modi one in his analysis earlier this week for Pakistan’s Tribune Express about “The Three Factors That Will Shape The Future Of US-Pakistani Relations”. It was concluded that bilateral relations will improve as a result of these pressures, which in turn will further reduce the possibility of the US doubling down on its failed War on Afghanistan. The Taliban peace process, for as imperfect as it is, has veritably led to some noticeable results over the past year. Not only would it be a waste for Biden to scrap all of that just for the sake of spiting his predecessor, but it wouldn’t serve much of a grand strategic purpose anyhow considering the progress that’s being made on implementing the Trump Administration’s Central Asian strategy.

Trump & Biden: Different Visions, Shared Interests

In fact, it’s in Central Asia where Trump and Biden have a unique confluence of interests. The former’s economic-driven policy of engagement dovetails well with the latter’s plans to assemble a so-called “Alliance of Democracies”. Both are non-military means for expanding influence and perfectly complement one another. While Biden will probably retain the US’ troop presence in Afghanistan or even slightly increase it for domestic political reasons should he find it convenient to do so, he’s unlikely to devote as much military time and effort to the conflict as Obama did for the earlier mentioned reasons. While the Central Asian Republics don’t practice Western forms of democracy, the US nevertheless subjectively regards them as being different in substance from Russia and China’s governing models, and thus comparatively more “legitimate” to partner with.

The Military-Industrial Complex’s Pernicious Influence

Even so, the US’ powerful military-industrial complex won’t take too kindly to its most direct interests being threatened in the region through the civilian government’s decision to keep troop levels at an all-time low. Bearing this in mind, it makes sense for Biden for execute the Trump Administration’s reported proposal to privatize the conflict through private military contractors (PMCs) as the latter are an important cutting-edge part of the military-industrial complex, albeit one which enables Washington to retain a degree of “plausible deniability”. Many former servicemen transition from the Armed Forces to PMCs upon their honorable discharge because it pays much better, thus making these entities practically one and the same except in the legal sense, with both fulfilling the important task of guarding Afghanistan’s $1 trillion in rare earth minerals.

Concluding Thoughts

Looking forward, Biden (or rather, the power structure behind him) might not make much political progress on resolving America’s War on Afghanistan, but he probably won’t make things much worse either. Rather, this “endless war” might continue to persist, but simply become more and more “forgettable” so to speak. Should he feel that it would be politically convenient to do so in the domestic sense, then he might either slightly raise the troop levels or publicly announce that some of the existing ones will be switch out for PMCs. His intelligence agencies will probably continue to foment low-intensity destabilization scenarios across the region, but likely won’t concentrate too much effort on this as the US’ grand strategic focus shifts elsewhere in light of the new domestic and international conditions in which the fading unipolar hegemon is forced to adapt.


By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst

Tags: US, Afghanistan, Russia, Pakistan, Trump, Biden, Central Asia.






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Expert Analysis

Why Wasn’t There Any Post-Election Turmoil In Tajikistan?

Why Wasn’t There Any Post-Election Turmoil In Tajikistan?

16 OCTOBER 2020

Why Wasn

Unlike fellow former Soviet Republics Belarus and even neighboring Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan’s latest elections didn’t result in any turmoil even though one might have expected it to have due to some similarly discernible risk factors, but that wasn’t the case (at least not yet) for five primary reasons.

Tajikistan’s latest elections came and went without any turmoil unlike the recent ones in fellow former Soviet Republics Belarus and even neighboring Kyrgyzstan, the first of which is now in the midst of an ever-intensifying Color Revolution while the latter just experienced a successful regime change operation which led to the president’s resignation. Some observers expected Tajikistan to follow in their footsteps, especially since it has some similarly discernible risk factors such as a long-serving ruler, an impoverished population (even before the onset of World War C), and a history of internationally criticized election results (to put it mildly). The very fact that this wasn’t the case, however (at least not yet), can be attributed to five primary factors:

* Lucid Memories Of The Former Civil War Deter Regime Change Scenarios

Tajikistan’s former civil war from 1992-1997 was a complex conflict with regional, clan, and religious dimensions. It’s estimated to have killed at least 65,000 people and internally displaced 20% of the population. President Rahmon, who first took office at the beginning of the conflict, still rules the country to this day. Although some members of the population might still be unhappy with him or eventually became fatigued after his nearly three-decade-long rule, they all remember what a tragedy the civil war was and few want to risk doing anything that could repeat it, such as unleashing a Color Revolution or returning to anti-state militancy.

* Afghanistan’s ISIS-K Threat Reminds Everyone Why Stability Is So Important

Even among those “well-intended” members of society who might silently wish for profound political change, they’re keenly aware of the ISIS-K terrorist threat in neighboring Afghanistan. In the event that Tajikistan is destabilized because of post-electoral unrest, the world’s most notorious terrorist group might be able to more easily exploit events in order to establish a territorial foothold in Central Asia. Lucid memories of the former civil war already act as a powerful regime change deterrent for many, but for the most “passionate” among them who might still clamor for change, then the threat of ISIS-K might deter all but the most radical “activists”.

* The “Islamic Renaissance Party” Is Banned & Foreign-Linked NGOs Are Regulated

The “Islamic Renaissance Party” (IRP) played a key role supporting the opposition during the civil war and resultantly earned the right to be legalized as the only such Islamist party in the region after the conflict ended. It was once again banned five years ago and subsequently linked to several terrorist attacks in the country. Some Westerners argue that banning it radicalizes its members, but one can also argue that the IRP was already becoming a front for radical goals. Tajikistan’s regulation of foreign-linked NGOs complemented its crackdown on the IRP by reducing external influence over its domestic political processes, thus stabilizing the state.

* Tajikistan’s “Strongman” System Keeps Regional & Clan Conflicts Under Control

Objectively speaking, Tajikistan’s contemporary politics are a textbook example of a “strongman” system. President Rahmon has thus far succeeded in keeping regional and clan conflicts under control unlike neighboring Kyrgyzstan which jettisoned its “strongman” model after its Color Revolutions in 2005 and 2010. As can now be seen, so-called “democratic” Kyrgyzstan (as described by its many NGOs’ Western patrons) is much more unstable than “strongman” Tajikistan, which vindicates many of the controversial moves that President Rahmon made during his time in office. To his credit, he’s kept the peace for almost a quarter of a century.

* Russian Intelligence Likely Has Greater Freedom To Thwart Hybrid War Threats

Tajikistan is Russia’s first line of defense from Afghan-emanating Hybrid War threats, both those related to ISIS terrorism and also the “Weapons of Mass Migration” which might be driven from the Central Asian region to the Eurasian Great Power due to the first-mentioned trigger factor. It’s likely a lot easier for Russian intelligence to thwart these threats by cooperating real closely with its political allies within a “strongman” system compared to a “democratic” one like in Kyrgyzstan. It therefore can’t be ruled out that Russia played a leading role behind the scenes in ensuring that there wasn’t any post-election turmoil in Tajikistan.


The five primary factors that were elaborated upon above help explain why Tajikistan didn’t become destabilized after its latest election unlike Belarus and Kyrgyzstan. That said, instability might eventually erupt in the country if the younger generation has little to no memory of the civil war and becomes politically and/or religiously radicalized through the internet. It’s difficult for a faraway observer such as the author to measure those variables, though they mustn’t be discounted in principle since they represent latent threats that could spiral out of control if left unchecked. One should assume that there are domestic and external forces interested in exploiting them, but the speculated role that Russian intelligence plays in securing the country’s political stability should hopefully suffice for ensuring that no such dark scenarios transpire anytime soon.

Tags: Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Russia, Central Asia, Regime Change, Hybrid War.


By Andrew Korybko

American political analyst


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Expert Analysis

The Kyrgyz Compromise: Submitting To The Color Revolution Or Pragmatic Move For Peace?

The Kyrgyz Compromise: Submitting To The Color Revolution Or Pragmatic Move For Peace?

7 OCTOBER 2020

The Kyrgyz Compromise: Submitting To The Color Revolution Or Pragmatic Move For Peace?

The Kyrgyz government’s decision to annul the results of the latest elections which were exploited as the “trigger event” for the preplanned Color Revolution against it might be interpreted by some as submitting to that regime change operation even though the argument can also be made that it ‘s a pragmatic move for peace undertaken as a last-ditch effort to stave off a seemingly impending civil war.

Shuffling The Cards”

The author claimed on Tuesday that “The Kyrgyz Color Revolution Crisis Intensifies The US’ Hybrid War Containment Of Russia” after regarding it as the third unconventional front of aggression against the Eurasian Great Power after the ongoing regime change operation in Belarus and Armenia’s efforts to drag Moscow into the South Caucasus cauldron. That analysis still stands even though an attempt at compromise appears to be in the works in the Central Asian country after the government’s decision to annul the results of the latest elections which served as the “trigger event” for the preplanned unrest. The Prime Minister also resigned and was replaced after a parliamentary vote by a former Prime Minister who was jailed for corruption but released by rioters the day before. The previous speaker of parliament also resigned and was replaced by an opposition lawmaker too.

Russian Pragmatism

In response to this “shuffling of the cards”, Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov said that he’s ready to talk to the opposition, suggesting that the “possible way out of the crisis might be organization of new elections or division of power between political forces” but also warning that “There are risks that the country will fall victim of not only internal but also foreign forces.” It’s because of the latter concerns as expressed in the author’s earlier cited analysis that the Russian airbase in the country was put on high alert and the Russian Foreign Ministry “call[ed] on all political forces at this critical moment for the republic to show wisdom and responsibility in order to preserve internal stability and security.” The rapidly unfolding events in this historically unstable country are now moving in the direction of a “political solution”, one which appears to be a Russian-”supervised” “phased leadership transition” in the best-case scenario.

As the author wrote in his earlier piece, “Moscow might succeed in mitigating the blow to its geopolitical interests in the scenario of a regime change in Bishkek since it had previously worked real closely with Atambayev (who’s the most likely candidate to seize power, either directly or by proxy), though only if it can prevent a civil war from breaking out first.” He also advised that “The Kremlin will therefore have to carefully weigh its options in Kyrgyzstan” in order to avoid “the risks that any well-intended Russian military stabilization intervention via the CSTO could entail, perhaps explaining why one never happened in 2010 during more dangerous times.” Unlike in the Belarusian scenario where such an option is largely unrealistic due to the nature of its “national democracy”, Russia seems both able and willing to engage with the Kyrgyz opposition largely considered to be under the control of former President Atambayev.

The North-South Fault Line

There are reasons to suspect that the opposition either coordinated with and/or received unclear degrees of support from Western patrons (through both NGOs and foreign embassies) in executing its regime change operation earlier this week but that doesn’t in and of itself exclude Russia from having pragmatic relations with it in the interests of peace, primarily in order to avoid a disastrous civil war between Kyrgyzstan’s northern and southern halves. This fault line had previously been exploited during its 2005 and 2010 Color Revolutions since it’s a simplified model for explaining its clan competitions. It also adds a geopolitical dimension to the country’s many crises, one which suggests the possible solution of federalizing the state along this axis and incorporating Bosnian- and Lebanese-like “power-sharing” guarantees into the constitution for managing this centrifugal factor. This solution is admittedly imperfect, even fatally flawed one might say, but it’s a solution nonetheless.

Stopping A Civil War Before It Starts

It must be remembered that a civil war should be avoided at all costs because of the very high chances that it could destabilize Central Asia and its neighboring Great Powers of Russia and China. With this in mind, even the most imperfect and perhaps fatally flawed solutions should be seriously countenanced in order to at least buy enough time to bring the country back from the brink of collapse. While some might describe President Joonbekov’s interest in negotiating with the Color Revolution forces as a submission to this preplanned regime change operation, others could just as rightly describe it as a pragmatic move for peace. Russian support for this development would suggest that the country is quickly learning from the five constructive criticisms of its grand strategy that the author outlined over the summer and also imply a willingness to experiment with the equal number of practical recommendations that were proposed, including engaging with its allies’ opposition.

Giving Credit To The Critics

For as optimistic as well-intended observers might want to be, the hard reality of the situation must be accepted by all. Kyrgyzstan is once again on the brink of civil war, and the Western-backed opposition might interpret President Joonbekov’s interest in talks as a sign of weakness presaging the fall of his “regime” (as they and their foreign supporters might describe it) as long as they just “push a little harder” like the EuroMaidan forces did in February 2014 when they toppled President Yanukovich. Critics of the Kyrgyz President’s peacemaking approach might argue that he should show a strong hand, not extend an olive branch (let alone consider the author’s federalization proposal), but this “solution” runs the risk of making civil war inevitable. With the opposition having already recruited so many willing “human shields” (politically sympathetic peaceful civilians) to protect its most radical elements from the security forces’ kinetic responses to their provocations, the collateral damage that this scenario could entail might create a self-sustaining cycle of Hybrid War unrest.

SCO-Supported Federalization Might Be The Best Solution

It’s therefore difficult to judge the Kyrgyz government for its peacemaking outreaches to the opposition, both in terms of its President’s willingness to talk to them and the replacement of its Prime Minister and speaker of parliament with their representatives, since the alternative might arguably be an inevitable civil war. If the latter assessment is accurate, then it suggests that the authorities lost the Color Revolution even before it began since they failed to anticipate events, take appropriate preemptive action, and properly respond to its kinetic manifestation on the night when rioters torched the seat of government and broke two opposition leaders out of prison (the former President and Prime Minister). These dynamics make it natural that the government might now seek to “accommodate” some of the opposition’s demands, but it should be done with the intent of not leading to an all-out lustration of sitting officials, nor any irresponsible developments that could inadvertently provoke the civil war scenario (albeit driven by the incumbent government’s supporters).

The Kyrgyz political system is broken because of the authorities’ inability to keep clan-related politics in check, the proliferation of Western NGOs, and the history of unrest this century which made some members of society hated enemies of one another. Its perpetuation without any meaningful reform will only delay the inevitable repeat of unrest. Although the proposed solution of federalization is basically the “peaceful Balkanization” of the country in practice, it might still be able to avoid a future civil war scenario and help make Kyrgyz politics more manageable for its citizens as well as the regional stakeholders in that country’s stability. The author is therefore suggesting that the government table this proposal, hold new elections within the constitutional timeframe for doing so under these circumstances, and have all candidates commit to constitutional reform in this direction after the end of the vote. The SCO might even be requested to mediate and/or host these discussions in order to maintain civility between all sides as they partake in this sensitive process.

Concluding Thoughts

In one way or another, the Color Revolution already won in Kyrgyzstan, and it can be argued that it was predetermined to win given what’s known in hindsight about the state’s failure to anticipate this scenario, take appropriate preemptive action, and properly respond to its kinetic manifestation following the “trigger event” of a contentious election. That said, it’s not so much “submitting” to it which motivates the Kyrgyz President’s peacemaking outreaches to the opposition, but his well-intended and pragmatic desire to promote peace instead of what seems to be an impending civil war if the situation continues to spiral out of control. Even if there’s a Russian-”supervised” “phased leadership transition”, it’ll only postpone this crisis to a later date since the Kyrgyz political system is broken beyond repair and needs radical reform in order to avoid regularly repeating this scenario. That’s why the best-case scenario would be for government to declare constitutional reform as its priority, get all political forces to agree to it, and then request SCO support in this respect.


American political analyst



Tags: Kyrgyzstan, Color Revolution, Regime Change, Central Asia, Russia, SCO.


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GTN-South Asia (Afghanistan)


  • AFGHANISTAN: China is concerned about terror groups like Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan. It will mean a “fundamentalist Islamist theocracy” in control over a strategic territory with China having limited controls over the developments. China´s primary concern regarding terrorism in Afghanistan is about the security of Xinjiang Province (which is home to the Uyghur Muslims), directly relevant for Beijing’s ‘March West’ strategy which includes the Belt and Road Initiative and related projects in Central Asian countries.




Geopolitical conflicts



  • Turkey is planning to create a three-seas link: the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea, that would create a Turkish Silk Road, that could be supported by India, the European Union, and the United States, with anti-Chinese connotations. Turkey is also planning to expand into Central Asia, what could harm China´s interests in the region.




Global Terrorism Newsletter


  • RUSSIA: Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had shot dead a man who was planning to carry out a mass attack in Moscow. The man was from a Central Asian country, and had links with a militant group in Syria.

SOURCE: DW